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Community / Development council ‘angry’ as road issue puts project on hold

A section of the road which runs between Gutcher and Cullivoe. © Google 2019

PLANS for an expanded business park and new marina in Yell have been put on hold due to concerns over the potential impact extra traffic may have on a road between Gutcher to Cullivoe.

North Yell Development Council (NYDC) said its directors are “frustrated and angry” that the £1.2 million project has stalled due to the “poor condition” of the road, blaming a “lack of previous investment”.

The development council received planning permission for the two projects at Cullivoe this summer, but concerns from Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) roads department has put the plans in limbo.

They imposed a condition on the planning permission that the Gutcher to Cullivoe road needs to be improved before work goes ahead.

They said the road is not suitable for the expected level of HGV movements during the construction phase, which could lead to “verge over-running damage, which on this route represents a safety issue due to the narrow width and poor structural strength of the verges”.

The road already experiences HGV traffic due to the fishing and aquaculture industries, which use the Cullivoe pier.

Road staff also expressed worry over towed caravans being brought into the mix, as there are caravan bays mooted as part of the expansion, while there were also “concerns over the surface and structure of the road”.

North Yell Development Council said: “The objection is based around the fact that the main Gutcher to Cullivoe road is in such a poor state that any further traffic involved in the construction of the new marina and industrial estate extension would put the road in jeopardy and risk cutting off the whole Cullivoe and Gloup communities.

“NYDC are very well aware of the issues regarding this road and are in full agreement that something needs to be done to secure its future but are very frustrated that a lack of previous investment in this main link road has left them in this situation.

“Having received such great support from SIC development and other agencies the future of the project was looking very positive and the prospect of significantly improving the local infrastructure and generating some much needed employment becoming real possibilities.”

NYDC’s plans would see the Cullivoe business park over double in size, while there would be five caravan pitches installed.

The proposed marine would have 32 berths, including designated spots for visiting yachts, commercial sea angling boats, small commercial fishing boats and locally owned leisure craft.

NYDC has secured grant money from the Scottish Land Fund to buy land for the projects.

Councillor Ryan Thomson, who chairs the environment and transport committee in addition to representing the North Isles, said road investment would be discussed by the council later this year.

“The roads department are bringing forward a report to the next environment and transport meeting,” he said.

“Councillors will be asked to reintroduce a strategic action plan for capital investment for our road network.

“We have had to establish our medium term financial plan around a continued annual reduction in funding from the Scottish Government to cover inadequate revenue funding and also capital costs. We are being asked to do more with declining finance.”

The SIC’s roads department has been approached for comment.